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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has transferred months of entitlement to our minor son (13) and me. We have the approval certificate printed from the milConnect TEB site. Do we need to apply for the COE now just to have for our records or wait until one of us enrolls in school? The main purpose is for our son, so it will be at least four years from now until he enrolls. Thank you.

A: For yourself, you can do it either way, however, I think it is better to wait until you at least know which school you will attend and your education focus. That way, what you are doing is clearer to the VA and there is less of a chance at something getting screwed up.

For your son to get his COE, he has to wait until one of two things happen:
• either he graduates from high school,
• or he turns age 18.

Being neither would most likely happen for another four years, he has to wait. As a dependent to get a COE, go to the eBenefits website and fill out VA Form 22-1990e. The VA Form 22-1990 is for the service member when s/he wants to use his/her GI Bill benefits to go to school.

But when you do apply, be sure to give yourself some lead time between the time you apply and when you would start school as it can take 8 to 10 weeks to get your COE. It most likely should take less time, but use that for a planning factor.

If you plan on using your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while your husband is still serving, you would only get your tuition paid and the book stipend. However, regardless of your husband’s service status, when your son uses his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits he will get his tuition paid plus the housing allowance and book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I have been on active duty since 16Oct2006. Since I was prior service Air National Guard, I was only required to fulfill a 4-year enlistment when I joined the USCG. I reenlisted on 15Oct2010, but currently in a situation where I might be receiving a discharge and its up in the air on what type of discharge I would receive. In the event I do not receive an honorable discharge, am I still eligible for my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits? Also, would I have the opportunity to transfer any of those benefits to my spouse?

A: The way you used the word “eligible” is what I want to focus on because I think there is a lot of mis-understanding on what it really means in regard to the GI Bill. To be “eligible” to receive minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you have to serve for at least 90 days on Title 10 orders, such as being on active duty. That in itself would rate you at the 40% tier. To get fully vested in the Post 9/11 GI Bill (100%) you have to serve for at least three years after September 10, 2001 (which you have).

Because you have met the “eligibility” requirements – serving the required amount of time on Title 10 orders after September 10, 2001 – you are fully vested for 36 months of benefits at the 100% level; that would not change regardless of which discharge you end up getting.

What can change, based on which discharge you end up getting, is your ability to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. With a discharge anything other than fully honorable, you would still have the benefits, but you would not be able to use them. Do you see the difference?

Now I’m assuming this is your first active duty enlistment. If it is not, such as you may have had some 90-day or more deployments ending in honorable discharge(s) when you were with the Air Guard, then you may have some Post 9/11 GI Bill “eligibility” under those terms of service.

If this is your only active duty enlistment and you do end up getting something other than fully honorable, there is an appeal process that you can use to request to get your discharge upgraded to honorable provided you can support your request as to why your current discharge is wrong. But let’s cross that bridge when or if that happens.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I got out in 1999 and used only part of my Montgomery GI Bill to complete a master’s degree. I was involuntarily called up for the 2006 surge, but stayed in the Regular Army through the present as a LTC. I want to transfer my GI Bill to my sons. Should I get back the prorated $1,200 and convert to Post 9/11 GI Bill? Or can I transfer both the Montgomery GI and Post 9/11 GI Bill (48 months minus the small part I used)? Since I am back active duty do I do this through G1 or VA?

A: O.K., you have several questions here (all great questions by-the-way) and I’ll do my best to answer them in the order asked. First, to transfer your GI Bill to your sons, you have to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill as the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) does not have a transfer-to-dependents option.So with that said, that answers your second question – you can’t transfer both your MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bill.

As far as getting back your “prorated $1,200”, there is not a mechanism in place to get your MGIB contribution back before you transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. How that happens is if you transfer with months of MGIB left, you get back your prorated contribution after you finish up using your last month of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits that you brought over from the MGIB. Your prorated contribution would come as part of your last Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance.

As far as transferring both the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bills, you can’t for a couple of reasons – one which we have already mentioned; the MGIB does not have a transfer-of-benefits option. But that is not the main reason. When you convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to “give up” your rights to another GI Bill and if the MGIB is the only other one you have, then it is the one you have to give up, so in essence, you would not have anything left of the MGIB to use.

And when you transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the number of months that you would transfer over are only the number of months you have left under the MGIB; you would not get the additional 12 months as you would if you would have first exhausted your MGIB and then converted over to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

As far as making the transfer request, you won’t do it through either your G1 or the VA; instead you would go to the milConnect website and make your transfer request there. Make sure you do it while you are still on active duty.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Good afternoon Mr. Kness, I’ve read various articles and it was slightly overwhelming to take in all at once. I was hoping you could help me clarify a few questions I had. My overall goal is to decide whether to stay with the MGIB or switch to Post 9/11 GI Bill. I’m trying to maximize my benefits, but I’m also unaware of many variables 1. Being from a Tuition-Free State, would staying with the MGiB still pay me $1,473/monthly? Does the Post 9/11 compare in the monetary value received through Housing/Book Stipend? 2. If I take courses online to bridge the gap until the next semester when I can take on-campus classes, would I only receive half the BAH that the same courses would pay in a physical setting? Thank you for your time sir!

A: All great questions! Being you are in a tuition-free state, you may well indeed be better off staying with the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), however, it really depends on the BAH rate for the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. For example, under the MGIB, you would get $1,564 per month (the rate went up on Oct 1st). Out of that amount, you would have to pay for books – let’s say $300. So for the 4-month semester, you would net $5,956.

Now check the BAH rate table for your school zip code. Select E-5 from the drop-down Pay Table menu. If the “with dependents” rate is less than $1,564 per month, then you would be better off staying with the MGIB. Plus in addition under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get $41.67 per credit per semester in book stipend (up to the $1,000 per year cap). If you are a full-time student, that is about another $500.
I think my answer to your first question pretty well answered your second question.

For question three, you are spot-on. Crazy huh! If you are taking all online courses, then the most you can get in Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance would be $684 per month. If you take those same courses on campus you would get the full housing allowance.

So the lesson to be learned here would be to keep your MGIB through your online-only courses (because it pays more) and then switch and make your Post 9/11 GI Bill effective date to start when you begin attending on-campus.

There is one last thing you should know. If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with benefits left under the MGIB, you would not get the additional 12 months of benefits. If the additional time is important to you, then you may want to stay with the MGIB until you have exhausted it and then switch.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My pre 9/11 GI Bill delimiting falls in October (mid semester) next year. Can I then switch to Post 9/11 GI Bill, or should I just switch before the semester begins?

A: The key to getting your additional months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, is to first use up all your Montgomery GI Bill benefits before switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is a timing issue; if you have your effective date start before you have exhausted your MGIB, then all you will get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill for benefits is what you had left under the MGIB. In some cases that has been just a matter of days – not good.

So to prevent that from happening, when you fill out your VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website, ensure that you set your effective date in Part II, Block 9f well after when you have estimated when you would run out of benefits. You can put down a date two weeks to a month after – it really doesn’t matter and I will show you why.

Once you submit your VA Form 22-1990 and the VA sees you are Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible and still in school, they will start your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits the day after you run out of your Montgomery GI Bill regardless of the date you enter. So your benefits will continue on – just at the Post 9/11 GI Bill rate.

However, because there is a lag between the time your request is processed and when you get your new Certificate, it would most likely show that you actually have less than 12 months of benefits left to use as the VA took off the number of days and months you needed to get you to the end of the semester. On your end it should be seamless except for the change in the amount you get once you are on the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I currently have about 10 months left on my Post 9/11 GI Bill in education benefits. I do qualify under the Rule of 48 and I’m curious how do I go about requesting an additional 12 months of benefits? Is there any for sure way of knowing that my request will get approved?

A: Most likely your request would not be approved. Right now, the way to get those additional 12 months of benefits is to first use up your Montgomery GI Bill benefits, switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and then you would get the additional 1 year of benefits.

If you only had the Post 9/11 GI Bill to begin with, then you would be limited to just 36 months (as you would normally get with having only one GI Bill anyway) and not get the additional time. If you had the Montgomery GI Bill and had already switched, then you would get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had under the Montgomery GI Bill before you switched and not the additional time.

Unfortunately, once you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you waived your rights to your old Montgomery GI Bill, so you can’t switch back.
However, if you are fortunate enough to have a third GI Bill, you could get up to 12 additional months under that one.

Some Reservists and National Guardsman having prior active duty time, and having been deployed since being in the SEL RES, can have up to three GI Bills – the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty(MGIB-AD), Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

In that case, the smart way to use those benefits would have been to “give up” the 36 months of MGIB-SR benefits (because it pays less) and transfer them to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Once your Post 9/11 GI Bill was used up, the switch to the MGIB-AD and get your additional 12 months of benefits for your total of 48 months.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I want to convert my MGIB to the Post 9/11 GI Bill so I can begin a program in Homebuilding Interdisciplinary studies. I’m completing a 22-1990 form to convert. What do I do next?

A: You are on the right track;once your VA Form 22-1990 is processed and approved (and that can take up to 10 weeks), you will get your Certificate of Eligibility from the VA. The certificate shows which GI Bill you are using (Post 9/11 GI Bill), how many months of benefits you have left to use and your delimitation date (the date in which your benefits will expire). You need to hand in a copy of your certificate to your school when you register for classes.

If you had all 36 months of your MGIB benefits left when you transferred GI Bills, then you would get that same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

By using the Post 9/11 GI Bill at a public school, the VA would pay your tuition up to the resident undergraduate rate. If your school is private, they can pay up to $18,077.50 per year in tuition costs.

Monthly, and if you are attending classes on-campus, you would get a housing allowance calculated on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you are taking. If all your classes are online, then the most in housing you can get is $684 per month.

Also, you would qualify for the book stipend. If you are attending a degree-producing program, then you would get $41.67 per credit up to the $1,000 per year limit. If you are in a non-degree program, such as a vocational school, then you would get up to $83 per month.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have been active duty since Dec 1998 with no breaks in service. I used 11 months of MGIB benefits in 2005. If I understand correctly, I now rate 25 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. I want to transfer these benefits to my son but am not sure what benefits I rate; how to transfer them; and if it’s better to maintain the MGIB. This is the most useful site I’ve found on this subject. Thank you!

A: Well first, I’m glad that you found this site so useful – thank-you. Second, if your goal is to transfer benefits to your son, then you will have to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, as the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) does not have a transfer option.

You do understand correctly. You started out with 36 months of MGIB benefits and you used 11 months of them, so you have 25 months of MGIB left. If you transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with months of MGIB left, then you will get that same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

To make a transfer of benefits to your son, go to the milConnect website. Once there, click on the Transfer Your Education Benefits. Look for a transfer approval, by coming back occasionally and looking for a status of “Transfer Approved”. Then when your son is old enough, graduated from high school or age 18, he can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e (or whatever the process is at the time) to get his Certificate of Eligibility that he will need when enrolling in school. It can take 8 to 10 weeks to get a transfer request approved.

Before you make a transfer request, be sure you meet the past service requirement of having served for at least six years and the future one of having at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of the transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I served 4 years from 2002-2006. I got out of the Air Force and began to use my GI Bill. I was under, I think, Chapter 30 at first and then switched over to the Post 9/11. I just recently re-enlisted in the Air Force this past March (2012) for 4 more years. I still have some of my GI Bill left and am interested in signing it over to my wife. Is it true I need to have already served 6 years to do that? Also, I understand there is a way to get the $1200 I invested in the GI Bill back since they no longer charge that. Is that true as well? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

A: Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer-of-benefits-to-dependent rules, yes you have to have served for at least six years of which three of those years had to be after September 10, 2001. So you meet the three-year requirement to qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but you don’t yet meet the six-year requirement to qualify for the transfer of benefits option.

Once you have served for at least two more years, and have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of your transfer request, then you can go to the milConnect website and apply for a transfer of benefits by entering into your wife’s record how many months you would like to transfer to her.

Keep checking back at the website periodically and look for a Status change to “Approved”. It can take 8 to 1-0 weeks for the status to be approved.

Once that happens, then she can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get her Certificate of Eligibility that she will need when enrolling in school as a student using transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I have a question about the Montgomery and Post 9/11 Bill. I have over 9 years of military service. I had no break in service but I have re-enlisted with my Battalion 3 times. All three times I re-enlisted I received certificates stating honorable discharge even though I never actually discharged from the Army. Now at 9 years, I will be receiving a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge, am I still eligible for either the Montgomery or Post 9/11 Bill? I have been told that if you receive at least one honorable discharge from the Army I will qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill, does that mean I have to clear the Army and receive a DD214 or does each honorable discharge and re-enlistment I have received count? I hope this is not confusing. I just need a straight forward answer and it seems impossible to get on this matter.

A: You do not have to have a DD 214 to prove your honorable terms of service. With each reenlistment you were given a DD 256 Honorable Discharge Certificate and a DD Form 4 reenlistment form. Either (or both) are acceptable forms of proof that you have at least one term of service that ended in a Honorable Discharge.

To prevent denial of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you need to send in a copy of either your DD 256 or DD 4 along with your VA Form 22-1990 when you apply for education benefits. Once your 22-1990 is approved, you will get back your Certificate of Eligibility that you will need when enrolling in school as a GI Bill student.

By having the Post 9/11 GI Bill, with over three years of Honorable service, you have 36 months of education benefits at the 100% level that you might as well use. You earned it from your honorable service; now is the time to start using it. Keep in mind you have up to 15 years from your date of discharge to use up those benefits. After that, they will expire.